7 Myths of Marathon Training
I heard people pee themselves. I knew one guy whose nipples bleed all time. You’re going to lose all of your toenails.
These are just a few of the comments I received when I’d tell people I was training for a marathon. Why is it that some people try to scare you out of training? I paid my entrance fee, I booked my hotel and flight, and I’m already up to 15 training miles. I’m not giving up now—bloody nipples or not!
Fear not, my fit and focused friends, runners, and wannabe runners. Training for a marathon is not as ugly as some would lead you to believe. Let’s debunk some myths and chat facts, shall we?
MARATHON MYTH 1: You’re going to lose your toenails.
STATUS: False, with a touch of truth
I realize that is a bit confusing. Let me explain. If your running shoes are a little too small, your toes (usually just your big toes) will jam against the front of your shoes when you run. This happens more often when running downhill or in the summer when your feet swell. The constant pounding of toe against shoe will cause the nail to bruise and potentially fall off. However, if you have good shoes (aka have about a thumbprint’s worth of space between the end of the big toe and the front of the shoe, you should be fine. I never lost a toenail—or even got black toenails—from my Adidas. I did get one bruised toenail from my new Reeboks, but it isn’t in the fall-off-danger-zone. So no, you won’t lose all of your toenails. You may lose your big toenails, you may just bruise them—but get the right shoes and your toenails will be just fine.
MARATHON MYTH 2: You’re nipples will bleed.
My nipples never produced the red juice. I have heard that this is more common for guys as their nipples rub and chafe against their shirts as they run. Women have the protection of sports bras, so this is less likely to happen. However, I never experienced bloody nipples nor have I seen any male at any race I have had the pleasure of running bleeding through his shirt in the nipple region. I also have never said nipple so many times in my life. Nipple.
MARATHON MYTH 3: Training will take over your life.
Training for a marathon is a huge commitment. Even with a beginner’s plan, you’ll be running at least 4 days a week. One of those days will be for your long runs. Depending on your pace, these runs can take 2, 3, 4 hours or more. Every Sunday was long run day for me. I didn’t make any plans on Sundays for 4 months because I knew the bulk of my day would be running, and once I finished running, I wouldn’t want to move. I also did all of my training outside in the fall and winter months, so it got dark early—severely cutting into my potential run time. As for weekday runs, as the miles got longer, I started waking up earlier. I checked the weather constantly to ensure I’d be dressed properly. I figured out my route in advance and always had my fuel ready to grab and go in the morning. I was constantly thinking about the marathon—in a good way—but nevertheless my life revolved around the race.
MARATHON MYTH 4: You can eat whatever you want.
While it’s true that you can (and should) increase your calorie intake as you start running more, you shouldn’t take that as an opportunity to eat everything but the kitchen sink. Healthy nutrition is key to running (and health in general). You need more carbs, yes, but you need the right kind of carbs. I did a lot of research into what foods I should be eating. What will give me energy versus what will make me sluggish. When I ate well, my runs were much better. My legs felt lighter and my time was faster.
MARATHON MYTH 5: You’ll pee yourself during the race.
Unless you are uber competitive and refuse to stop even when the Tinkle Fairy calls (Yes, I just said Tinkle Fairy. I also said nipples 500 times.), you most likely will not up and pee yourself during a race. Most races have port-a-potty’s, so if you feel the urge, just make a pit stop. Some women that have given birth may get some leakage (I hear), but a full out wet-your-pants scenario is unlikely if you suck up your pride and stop at the pot. That said, on a not so pleasant note (stop reading now if you are easily grossed out), there was one woman at the Walt Disney World Marathon that had pooped herself. I know this because I ran behind her for a stinky second before zooming around. I don’t know how this happened. I feel terribly that it did, but as I said—port-a-potty’s abound. If you are potty trained, you should be ok.
MARATHON MYTH 6: You’ll chafe. A lot.
All of my running clothes are very comfortable. It’s a mandate for me. Alas, no matter how comfy your clothes will be. You will get some chaffing. I tended to get a few cuts and abrasions around my heart rate monitor and the sides of my sports bra. I also got the occasional blister. All of my chaffing was minor, but it still hurt like a… welI, I’ll spare you the profanity, but it hurt quite a bit in the shower. Just get yourself some good antibiotic cream or spray (like what I got in my Bulu Box) and you’ll be good.
MARATHON MYTH 7: Your whole body will break out.
I didn’t break out at all during marathon training. Granted, most of my training was in the winter, so I wasn’t sweating as much as I would be had I trained in the summer, but I didn’t get a single pimple—not even on my face, the usual suspect for unwanted blemishes. If you are super sweaty and don’t shower after a run, I can’t help you. But if you aren’t prone to breakouts normally and you shower after a run, you should be A-OK.